What’s your “PS”?
I recently caught myself reminiscing about my childhood which took place in the middle of the last century in Plainfield, Illinois. My siblings and I spent some time “practicing” asking the question, “What’s your PS?” Today, when discussing most any subject in my brothers’ families or mine, someone will ask that question.
Sounds like a scintillating conversation, asking “What’s your PS?” doesn’t it? Wait a minute. There’s more. You’ve got one, too—a PS, that is.
Through what was called the Character Research Project, a study led by Dr. Ernest Ligon of the psychology department at Union College in Schenectady, New York, we kids in our Sunday school classes were presented with some of his notions. His department’s theories of character development were “tested” throughout the country in various church denominations.
One of these notions was called “perceived situation” or PS. Now you know. Yes, of course, you have one too!
In very different circumstances and at a very different time, the ideas embodied in this question helped to frame our family’s code of ethics and how to live in community with others. I’ve decided to go public with its meaning. Remember the old adage, “better late than never”?
My brothers and I, along with dozens of other kids, were taught in speaking with others to inquire about their take on the subject. As we all look through different pairs of eyes, no one observes the same situation in exactly the same way as another. Therefore, in conversation, if we voice our “perceived” situation, it’s only fair that the other person’s view is heard as well.
This avoids jumping to conclusions, a “poor form of exercise” my dad used to say. How simple! Ask the other person for his take on the situation.
Try it. Put yourself in a situation where you aren’t aware of the other person’s opinion. Rather than goading or steamrolling him or her into something, dictating what you want from the person or ignoring his or her ideas completely, take it down to a simple, basic question. Ask, “What’s your take? What is your perceived situation? How does it look from your perspective?”
From just two people discussing an event, a plan or an issue of any kind, you are able to learn one another’s viewpoint. Then, ideas might mesh, or grow, or mushroom, or snowball, or catapult. Choose your metaphor! Maybe even some world problems could be resolved by these simple means. On the other hand, if we all did this, who says even big problems couldn’t be solved in this way?
If we listened more to the other fellow’s perspective, the result could lead to happier and more contented lives for all of us. This I believe. Let’s start now. Pick a subject. Open up dialogue. Then ask, “What’s your PS?”
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.